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by Chris Ritter

July 2, 2015

Find the right level of core exercise for you

There are many ingredients for natural, strong swimming. One of the most important is good core strength and stability. Without a strong and engaged core, coordinating and supporting arm and leg movements is more difficult and can result in injury-inducing poor technique. If you include quality core work in your strength-training program, you’ll build and maintain a solid foundation for good technique and strong swimming.


If you’re unfamiliar with the different categories that your strength program should cover, be sure to review, Strength Training: A Balanced Approach.

Here are the categories that you should train consistently for a balanced program with a focus on injury reduction and performance enhancement:

  • Push (horizontal and vertical)
  • Pull (horizontal and vertical)
  • Squat (single and double-legged)
  • Hinge (single and double-legged)
  • Core (prone, supine, and vertical)

In this article, we’re addressing that last bullet point, specifically, core progressions done in a prone (face down) position.

Important: Before you begin, review the videos of all the exercises and progressions online for a clearer understanding all of the movements and variations described in this article.


To help identify at which level you should start, see if you can perform a front bridge for 1 minute as well as a side bridge for 1 minute, on each side. If you cannot perform all three tests successfully, start at Level 1. If you successfully held a 1-minute bridge in all three positions, start at Level 2. You can always do Level 1 exercises for lower intensity or refining technique.

Level 1

These exercises help you feel your core muscles to help stabilize your body and hold a rigid bodyline with tone, whether it’s in the water or on land. Learning to hold the positions these two exercises put you in is critical to progressing in difficulty. Keep the repetitions on the low side to focus on technique.

  • Kneeling Rollout + Stability Ball (SB) (5 to 15 repetitions)
  • Stir the Pot + SB (5 to 12 repetitions each direction)

Level 2

Once you feel comfortable with Level 1 exercises or have passed all three assessment tests, you can learn to hold your body position while moving different limbs and varying points of contact.

  • Alternating Bridge (3 to 5 times through all movements)
  • Opposite Bridge (8 to 24 total movements)

Level 3

After you’ve worked comfortably at the upper repetition range of Level 2, you can try the following exercises. The demand to hold your bodyline is greater at this level, so be ready for the challenge and progress only as you feel you can hold proper technique as demonstrated in the videos.

  • Bodysaw + TRX (4 to 12 repetitions)
  • Kneeling Rollout + Wheel (5 to 15 repetitions)
  • Bridge Drag + SB (8 to 20 total movements)

Remember to watch the videos for all these exercises. Find what level is best for you to begin with to strengthen your core. Then, watch as your performance in the water and your athleticism on land improve.


  • Technique and Training


  • Drylands
  • Weight Training
  • Strength Training
  • Core